Language schools will lose out on thousands of pounds while “illogical”

visa restrictions remain in force, it has been claimed.

The industry, which is worth £150 million to the Sussex economy each year, was outraged when the Government re-introduced rules preventing students with basic English from studying in the UK despite a judicial review deciding that the changes were unfairly imposed.

A delegation led by Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd attended Parliament yesterday to raise the matter with the UK Border Agency and immigration minister Damian Green, who agreed to review the restrictions in the autumn.

However, language school heads warn that by then it would be too late.

Phil Hopkins, principal of the English Language Centre in Hove, said: “I had a call today from an agent in Japan who prepares people for the travel industry.

“They usually come for more than nine months but we will not get that business.

That’s five to ten per cent of our income.”

At yesterday’s meeting, also attended by English UK, the umbrella body in charge of language schools, the woman in charge of protecting Britain’s borders agreed to visit Sussex to see the effects for herself.

Lin Homer, chief executive of the UK Border Agency, will visit Eastbourne at the request of Mr Lloyd within the next few weeks.

Mr Lloyd, who attended the Home Office meeting with Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas and Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby, said:“We all understand there is a problem with bogus students.

However, we made it crystal clear that [the new rules] – insisting that someone should be able to speak English before they come to the country to learn English – is the wrong approach and would cause severe problems in the industry.”

The rules were brought in under the previous government to prevent illegal immigrants abusing the visa system.

Tony Millns, chief executive of English UK, which has branded the restrictions “illogical”, put forward two ways they could be changed.

He said they could be expected to have recently completed high school education in their own country.

He also suggested the existing general educational level required of students applying for English language courses could be higher for countries which are judged to be high risk, and lower for low risk countries.